Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obabika River Loop - Day 2

Conspicious bands of pollen lines surrounding rocks on an
island in the middle of Obabika lake due to
changing water levels.

The next morning we got to an extremely late start as we were exhausted from the long day. Despite thundering and raining at night, it decided to start up again in the morning, so we had little motivation to get up. Eventually, hunger got us up and we crawled out to grey skies as we went about completing our usual morning task. We were finally back on the water at 14:30!, as we slowly made our way up the west shore of the lake. Encouragingly, some blues skies appeared with the sun poking through occassionally, but the ominous sounds of thunder in the distance continued throughout the afternoon.

Marylou was uneasy with the thunder, but there was no reason to stop paddling as there was no signs of rain or lighting. Even when we stopped at one point on a small bare island to take some pictures, she expressed her concerns again while the thunder continued unabated. As I was trying to calm Marylou down while telling her to look at the horizons for relief, I failed to notice that the north end of Obabika was covered by a menacing wall of dark grey clouds and rain heading our way. Oops!!

Marylou intently watching storm clouds on Obabika lake.

Jumping in the canoes with barely a word, we turned south and paddled like mad to a campsite for shelter. As we strained with each stroke, we began to feel the wind at our backs that proceeds these fronts. Once on shore we quickly wedged the canoe between trees and dragged our packs to a flat area and immediately pulled out our rain gear. We then began rigging up a tarp as we could now hear the mad rush of rain heading our way. It wasn't the prettiest set up, but it was enough to keep us from the torrent of rain that immediately followed. Of course due to the wind, the rain still managed to wet us, but it was comforting to know that we were off the water and had shelter above our heads. If there was any time that I distinctly remember being enlightened with "I told you so!", it was now.

Within an hour, we were back on the water with the tarp packed and our rain gear removed. The sun did come out again, but this time there was no thunder. (phew!) We immediately headed north to the mouth of the river while passing a large camp/cottage on a point. I believe it belongs to Alex Mathias, an aboriginal living on his ancestral family's land while protecting it from logging and other such interest. Many have had the chance to meet him, so I looked intently while passing the property, but didn't see any signs of people or movement, so we passed quietly. Besides, since we were so behind, we decided to just continue paddling.

Calmly paddling down the Obabika river.

The Obabika river is a slow meandering river which was a nice change of pace from all the big lake paddling we had the day before. Birds seemed to thrive here as they constantly whizzed overhead from one side to the other. We eventually came to a small decrepit dam which we quickly carried over and continued paddling. We were now looking intently on river right looking for signs of a portage that led to an unnamed lake. Our plan was to camp there so it was important not to miss the turn off, but at the same time it wasn't the typical choice of most people paddling down the Obabika river so we wondered if it was even marked. (in Temagami, expect the unexpected!) Amazingly, we spotted the right surveryor tape by a creek on the branch of an alder, - amongst all the others that we noted that lined the river bank as well! (we couldn't figure what all those other tapes were for?!)

Portaging 20m's around the small decrepit dam, Marylou
waits to put back in the river.

Anyhow, it was supposed to be an easy 380m to the unnamed lake. Like everything "Temagami", (meaning confusing/challenging) we found ourselves definitely portaging more that the 380m's going down what looked like a overgrown cart trail, which totally soaked us to the bones and had the mosquitoes swarming us. Frustrated and spewing out expletives, we turned around and reassessed the situation back at the river.
After looking over the map several times and searching the surroundings, we found another surveyor's tape far upstream of the narrow creek that drained nearby into the river. With no other options, we decided to carry the canoe and gear to the creek and attempted to drag, pull, and occassionally paddle upstream through the tight turns. Surprisingly, we found more tape further ahead which gave us some hope as we continued on now lifting over several beaver dams. Pulling over the final and biggest beaver dam brought us tremendous relief as the long narrow lake lay before us. The euphoric moment combined with the rose-hued cast of the setting sun on the beautiful surrounding was all I needed to forgot the pain. It was worth it.

Marylou pulling branches aside in order to make our way up
the shallow overgrown creek to the unnamed lake.

Needless to say, it was another late night. We soon found the only campsite on the northeast side on a rocky point that was very overgrown. We quickly set up and got supper going in the dark, thankfully well protected in the bug tent. Despite another late day, we were happy to be here by overcoming the challenges and doubts of finding this lake. Nestled comfortably in our down bags with full stomachs, we soon faded into a well deserved sleep.

Next: Day 3 - "Are we there yet?!
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